Journal article

Extrinsic Noise and Heavy-Tailed Laws in Gene Expression

Lucy Ham, Rowan Brackston, Michael PH Stumpf

PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS | AMER PHYSICAL SOC | Published : 2020

Abstract

Noise in gene expression is one of the hallmarks of life at the molecular scale. Here we derive analytical solutions to a set of models describing the molecular mechanisms underlying transcription of DNA into RNA. Our ansatz allows us to incorporate the effects of extrinsic noise-encompassing factors external to the transcription of the individual gene-and discuss the ramifications for heterogeneity in gene product abundance that has been widely observed in single cell data. Crucially, we are able to show that heavy-tailed distributions of RNA copy numbers cannot result from the intrinsic stochasticity in gene expression alone, but must instead reflect extrinsic sources of variability.

Grants

Awarded by BBSRC


Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Ido Golding for sharing experimental data. L. H. and M. P. H. S. gratefully acknowledge funding from the University of Melbourne DVCR fund; R. D. B. and M. P. H. S. are funded from the BBSRC through Grant No. BB/N003608/1.